Thanksgiving Sides: Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes with Walnuts and Farro

Thanksgiving Sides: Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes with Walnuts and Farro

If one vegetable symbolizes Fall and Thanksgiving, it’s the Brussels sprout. When these little crucifers appear in the market, it means it’s time to pull on our sweaters and plan our holiday menus. Yet, if one vegetable symbolizes dinner challenges, it’s also the Brussels sprout, because when these mini-cabbages appear on the table you can be sure they will elicit strong reactions from those who love them – and those who hate them. Hence the eternal question: in the spirit of holiday togetherness, how can we serve these hardy sprouts for everyone to enjoy?

This recipe might be the answer. Like all traditions that bear repeating, it’s worth sharing once again. It has a few simple techniques that may, just may, win over any steadfast sprout-hater. The trick is to roast the Brussels sprouts, which softens their assertive and firm cabbagey properties and accentuates their natural sweetness. Grapes are roasted along with the sprouts, so they coat the sprouts with their winey juices and lend more sweetness. A good shellacking of pomegranate balsamic vinegar towards the end of the roasting provides a lip smacking caramelized finish. Finally, the sprouts, grapes, and juices are tossed with farro and toasted walnuts, creating a rustic and satisfying dish, which is nutty, sweet, and not too dense with sprouts – but with just enough to satisfy the lovers and appease the haters at your dinner table. So give it a try and let me know.

Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes with Farro

Pomegranate balsamic vinegar is available in specialty stores and well-stocked supermarkets. You can make your own by whisking together 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses.

Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved (or quartered if large)
3/4 pound seedless red grapes
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pomegranate balsamic vinegar
1 cup cooked farro, warm or at room temperature
1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C. Toss the Brussels sprouts, grapes, thyme sprigs, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle the pomegranate balsamic vinegar over and stir to coat. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the sprouts are tender and the grapes have begun to shrivel, about 15 more minutes. Remove from the oven, discard the thyme sprigs, and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the farro and walnuts and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes with Farro and Walnuts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes with Farro and Walnuts

brussels-sprouts-grapes-farro-tastefood

This brussels sprouts recipe is perfect for the holiday table. Roasted grapes and a shellacking of caramelized pomegranate balsamic vinegar tame and complement the earthy crucifers. Farro and toasted walnuts add heft and heartiness to this side dish, while nicely providing a satisfying vegetarian option on a meat laden table. If you can’t find pomegranate balsamic vinegar, you can make your own by whisking together 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses.

Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes with Farro

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

1 pound brussels sprouts, halved (or quartered if large)
12 ounces seedless red grapes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pomegranate balsamic vinegar
1 cup cooked farro
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss the brussels sprouts, grapes, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle the pomegranate balsamic vinegar over, stirring to coat. Return to the oven and roast until the sprouts are tender and the grapes have begun to shrivel, about 15 minutes more, stirring once or twice. Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the farro and walnuts and toss to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Winter Vegetable Soup with Greens and Grains

Winter Vegetable Soup with Greens and Grains

winter vegetable soup tf

I make a version of this soup throughout the fall and winter. The recipe is easy and delicious, following a simple template which I switch up with different seasonal vegetables, often a grain, and sometimes beans. The basic stock is chicken, to which I add a can of Italian plum tomatoes for fruity acidity, plus a hunk of Parmesan rind which breaks down while cooking, adding a little oomph (aka umami) to the broth. From there I embellish, adding a grain, such as farro or barley, and chunks of sturdy vegetables, such as fennel, butternut squash, and carrot. If I crave more substance (think one-pot dinner), I’ll dump a can of cannellini beans or chickpeas into the mix. Finally, I stir in chopped hearty greens, such as kale, mustard, or spinach, and simmer until they just wilt but remain bright and fresh. You can do this too – use the following recipe as your template, and mix and match the veggies and grains to your taste.

Winter Vegetable Soup with Greens and Grains
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, thinly sliced (or 1 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash)
1 small fennel bulb, fonds and end trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup uncooked barley or farro
1 (15-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
6 cups chicken stock, or more as needed
1 (2 to 3 inch) Parmesan rind
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained (optional)
2 cups coarsely chopped kale (or spinach)
Grated Parmesan for garnish

Heat the oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the carrot or squash and the fennel. Saute until brightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the barley and stir to coat, then add the tomatoes, chicken stock, cheese rind, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the barley is tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. If the soup becomes too thick, add more stock as necessary. Add the beans, if using, and bring to a boil, then add the greens and simmer until bright green in color and just wilted. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot with grated cheese.

Like the bowl? Many thanks to Terrestra for lending me this lovely bowl created by Jars Provence.

Veggie Fried Farro

Veggie FarroPosted by Lynda Balslev

Farro stands in for rice in this easy stove top dinner. Cooked farro is added to a sauté of seasonal chopped veggies – in this case cauliflower, peppers and purple kale. It’s a great way to use up your veggies  Almonds are an optional addition, adding extra protein and great crunchy texture to this satisfying dish.

Veggie Fried Farro

I used what I had on hand from the farmers market, including bok choy flowers for garnish (not necessary but very pretty).

Serves 4

1 cup farro
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water)
Salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 small head cauliflower, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
2 gypsy peppers (or 1 sweet red bell pepper), stemmed and seeded, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 heaping cup coarsely chopped kale leaves
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring the farro, stock or water, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the farro is tender, about 45 minutes.

Heat the oil and red chili flakes in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and carrot and sauté until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the peppers, garlic, cumin, and paprika  and sauté  until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the kale and sauté until the kale wilts, about 1 minute. Stir in the farro, almonds and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve warm.

Golden Beet and Shiitake Farrotto

farrotto tf

Posted by Lynda Balslev

When you switch out the rice with farro in this risotto-style dish, you end up with farrotto. Like rice, the farro grains steep and simmer in stock, but without the nonstop requirement of stirring with rice. The difference is that farro has a hearty chewy texture, never succumbing to mushiness. Each nutty whole wheat grain maintains its shape, exuding earthy wholesomeness. You can’t help but feel healthy when you eat it.

Farro has an ancient pedigree, originating in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Also known as emmer, and compared to spelt, farro is a species of wheat, high in fiber and rich in protein and B vitamins. It’s delicious in salads, pilafs, breads, soups and stews. If you haven’t tried it, you should.

Farro with Golden Beets and Shiitake Mushrooms 

Carrot and rutabagas are good substitutes for the beets. Serves 4 to 6.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
6 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups farro, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 medium yellow beets, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the farro and cook, stirring, until slightly toasted, about 1 minute. Pour in the stock and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until the farro is tender but chewy, 20 to 25 minutes.
While the farro is cooking, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the beets and sprinkle with salt. Sauté until crisp tender and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same skillet. Add the mushrooms in one layer and cook over medium-high heat until softened and slightly golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
To serve, toss farro with the beets and parlsey. If using feta, sprinkle over the farro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken Farro Veggie Bowl

chicken farro

Reflection, Gratitude, Peace.

Holidays are about family. This festive month is only halfway finished, and it’s already been jammed with family events – both expected and unexpected. My trip to Denmark was a whirlwind, packed with working commitments, great food and sites I can’t wait to share with you. When there was an opening in my busy schedule I saw old friends and my husband’s family – an early gift that made my trip even more special for which I am very grateful. Upon my return to the US, I hardly had time to empty my suitcase before packing it again – this time for an unexpected trip to visit my ailing father – and to say good bye. Sad and difficult, it was also bittersweet – a blessing to have a few days with my father and a gift to see my far flung brothers and my father’s family at once, to sit together and reflect, to remember and to laugh, to console and to cry.

I arrived home yesterday and as far as I know, no further travels are required (please). This chicken and farro bowl is what I made for our dinner last night. You might not call it festive, but you can certainly call it soulful and restorative – qualities that were not only perfect for my mood, but grounding and comforting as family food can be. It has several steps, not complicated but reassuring and gently mindful, offering solace, purpose and sustenance. And as timing would have it, it’s also healthy and light, which provides a welcome respite during the excessive holiday season. Peace.

Chicken Farro & Veggie Bowl

Roasting a whole chicken with the vegetables in one pan allows the vegetables to cook in the pan juices which are then spooned over the chicken and farro before serving.

1 (3 to 4 pound) chicken
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves plus 1 garlic clove, minced
3 to 4 small carrots, halved lengthwise
1 large onion, cut in 1/2-inch wedges
1 large fennel bulb, fronds trimmed, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 small romesco cauliflower, cut in bite-size florets
Leaves of 2 thyme sprigs

2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups farro
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves

Heat the oven to 400°F. Rub the chicken all over with oil. Generously season with salt and pepper including inside the cavity. Rub 2 minced garlic cloves inside the cavity and between the skin and breast meat. Place in a baking dish or large cast iron skillet, breast side up. Roast 20 minutes.

Place the carrots, onion, fennel, and cauliflower in a large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Remove the skillet from the oven. Scatter the vegetables around the chicken, gently raising the chicken to spread underneath if needed. Return to the oven and roast until chicken is thoroughly cooked, 45 to 55 minutes depending on size of chicken. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes before carving into serving pieces. (If you find the vegetables a little undone at this point, return the skillet with vegetables to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes while the chicken rests).

While the chicken is roasting, prepare the farro. Bring the farro and stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until farro is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 minced garlic clove, the soy sauce, sriracha and salt to taste.  Add the spinach and stir to wilt. Cover until serving.

To serve, spoon farro into a wide bowl or deep dish. Top with chicken pieces and roasted vegetables. Spoon pan juices over and serve immediately with extra hot sauce if desired.

Steak and Farro with Golden Beets, Garbanzos and Tarragon

~ Beef Ribeye, Farro, Golden Beets, Spring Onion, Garbanzos, Tarragon ~

There are a few reasons why this recipe is just right for tonight. The first reason is that it’s early summer in San Francisco and it’s freezing. Not literally, but enough to feel obliged to apologize profusely to visitors from out of town. Enough to don fleece outerwear to venture out to the grill, where hands are briskly warmed between flipping the burgers. Or enough to appear like it’s raining when technically it is not, but the mist from the fog is so heavy it soaks the garden furniture and leave puddles on the steps.

Another reason why this meal is just right is this is the first day following a whirlwind celebratory week of graduations, house guests and parties. When lists were made to remember lists. When we had great fun, but didn’t have a moment to reflect on that fun. When we indulged and consumed and quite likely forgot to eat our vegetables. Today we now have the time and space to remember and to reflect – and to also eat a balanced meal.

This recipe corrals the seasons’ best farmers market produce, hearty farro, and a few lone pieces of steak left over in the fridge, in one big warming yet fresh meal brimming with health and good flavor. You can grill the steak or pan fry it, depending on the weather.

steak farro tastefood

Warm Steak and Farro Salad with Roasted Beets, Garbanzos and Tarragon

Shelled English peas or edamame may be substituted for the garbanzos.
Serves 4.

3 medium golden beets, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch batons or wedges
1 large sweet yellow onion, halved lengthwise, each half thickly sliced in wedges
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups farro
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
2 or 3 rib eye or New York steaks, about 1-inch thick
1/2 cup shelled fresh garbanzos (chick peas)
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
Sriracha (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Toss the beets and onion with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven until beets are tender and onions are beginning to brown, about 45 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the farro: Combine the stock, farro and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the farro is tender but still chewy, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, paprika, cumin and cayenne. Partially cover to keep warm.
Prepare the steaks: Season the steaks all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add steaks, without overcrowding, and cook until brown on both sides, turning once, 6 to 8 minutes for medium rare. (or grill over direct high heat, turning once or twice, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Cut steaks crosswise in 1/2 inch thick slices.
While the steaks are resting, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the garbanzos and blanch until bright green but still crisp, about 1 minute.
To serve, spoon the farro into the center of a serving platter or divide among serving plates. Arrange steak in the center of the farro and drizzle with any accumulated juices. Place the vegetables around the steak and drizzle with any accumulated baking juices. Scatter the garbanzos over. Garnish with fresh tarragon. Drizzle with more olive oil. Serve warm with Sriracha sauce on the side.